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September 8, 2015

Expert FAAB Review

Week 23

by Mike Gianella

Depending on how long you have been a Baseball Prospectus subscriber, welcome or welcome back to the Expert FAAB Review. Every week, I’m going to take a look at the players and the process behind the expert bidding in LABR mixed, Tout Wars NL, and Tout Wars AL. Bret Sayre and I participate in LABR mixed while I have a team in Tout Wars NL, so I will provide insights behind the reasoning on some the bids. Budgets in all three leagues start at $100 at the beginning of the season.

Tout Wars uses a Vickrey Auction system. A basic description of the Vickrey bidding system can be found here.

Random Quote of the Week: “Roll out the barrels, we’ve got the Giants on the run!” –Brooklyn Dodgers, 1951.

LABR Mixed


Greg Bird $5. Player dropped: None.
Justin Nicolino $1. Player dropped: Luis Valbuena.

Holiday weekends are typically light transaction weeks, even in expert leagues, and this week proved to be no exception. MLB.com spent one of its three remaining FAAB dollars on Nicolino.

Table 1: LABR Mixed 2015 Top Five, Through Games of Sunday, September 6

Team

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG

W

ERA

SV

K

WHIP

Total

+/-

Baseball Prospectus

15

15

13

13.5

3

14.5

15

8.5

12

15

124.5

-3

MLB.com

14

12

15

15

10

12

6

10

13

12

119.0

+1

USA Today Sports

11

7.5

8

12

9

10

8

8.5

15

10

99.0

-1

Razzball

10

4

10

7

11

7.5

11

11.5

14

11

97.0

+1.5

FNTSY

7

14

12

6

15

9

12

4

2

13

94.0

+5.0


Another week, another few points shaved off of our lead by Fred Zinkie of MLB.com. We tumbled in batting average, which is frustrating because it is a category that is next to impossible to control. If we weren’t chasing RBI, we could try to maximize our advantage, but with points in play in both directions sitting someone like Curtis Granderson to gain batting average points we might not gain anyway doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Lineup changes are at least as important as FAAB bids at this juncture and Bret and I were busy shuttling people in and out of our lineup. Joe Kelly faces Toronto, so he goes back to our bench. Anthony DeSclafani has two starts this week (including yesterday’s gem versus the Pirates) so he starts. Lucas Duda and Wil Myers both returned from the DL; even though Myers is more likely to play every day, we put Duda in and benched Aaron Hill. Neither one of these moves is going to move the needle by itself, but will hopefully do enough in conjunction with the rest of our roster to make a difference.

Zinkie’s only move was for Nicolino; he benched Wei-Yin Chen and decided to push for wins with Nicolino’s two-start week against the Brewers yesterday and the Nationals at the end of the week. It was a good play insofar as wins is one of the only categories Zinkie can realistically pass us in, although with an eight-win gap on Zinkie time is running out for him to catch us, even in a mixed format.

This is where the overall point gap is a little misleading. Zinkie can certainly catch us, but there are some categories that are fixed barring a ridiculous surge or a sudden collapse. Every time I say this Zinkie seems to pick up ground, so maybe I should just keep my fool mouth shut.

Tout Wars NL


Austin Jackson $24 ($42). Other bids: $23, $21, $13, $2, $0. Player reserved: Enrique Hernandez.
Of the imports who came into the National League prior to the MLB trade deadline, Jackson was likely the most significant, unless you believe that Alejandro De Aza will come up big for the Giants. Kyle Schwarber is supposed to miss the entire Cardinals series with a rib-cage strain, and with Jorge Soler also out Jackson has an opportunity to pick up regular at bats, at least in the next few days. He isn’t a slouch with the bat, and even if you believe that the BABIP deities are going to come down hard on Jackson down the stretch he had eight home runs and 15 steals in 435 plate appearances entering yesterday’s action.

I bid $21 of my remaining $23 on Jackson. I didn’t have a pressing need, but wanted to make sure Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN—my primary opponent in the battle for first—spent almost all of his remaining FAAB if he wanted him. Cockcroft bid to block me, bidding $23 of his $26 on Jackson. Scott Wilderman of On Roto trumped both of us, bidding $42 and getting Jackson for a $24 Vickrey bid. Jackson’s primary purpose for both Cockcroft and me would have been to get more steals.

Clint Robinson $1 ($9). Player reserved: Domonic Brown.
Eric Young Jr. $1 ($7). Player reserved: Jordy Mercer.
Chris Rusin $1 ($5). Player reserved: Jeremy Jeffress.
Brent Wallace $1 ($4). Player reserved: Sean Rodriguez.
Austin Hedges $1 ($3). Player released: Chris Stewart.
Alejandro De Aza $1 ($2). Player released: Justin Maxwell.
Josh Collmenter $1 ($2). Player reserved: Yusmerio Petit.
Tyler Lyons $1.
Other bid $0. Keyvius Sampson.
Zack Godley $1. Player reserved: John Lamb.


I didn’t have a great week, but then neither did Cockcroft so I was able to hold most of my lead.


Table 2: Tout Wars NL Only 2015 Top Four, Through Games of Sunday, September 6

Team

R

HR

RBI

SB

OBP

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

K

Total

+/-

Mike Gianella (Baseball Prospectus)

11

12

12

7

8

7

7

7

8

9

88.0

-2.5

Tristan Cockcroft (ESPN)

7

11

11

2

4

6

11

8

10

10

80.0

-1.5

Phil Hertz (Baseball HQ)

12

8.5

6

9

9

8.5

3.5

10

6

6

78.5

+7

Derek Carty (ESPN)

2

3

2

11

11

12

1

11

11

11

75.0

+1.5


As I mentioned last week, the race is anything but over, but the clock is ticking for the teams behind me. For Cockcroft in particular, he needs to go on big wins and steals streaks soon in order to have any hope. He entered the week two wins behind me—and certainly could flip that point—but the bigger issue is that he is now six wins behind Hertz and Ray Guilfoyle (Fake Teams). Cockcroft needs to push past a few teams in wins if he is going to have a realistic hope at the overall title.

The big story of the week was Hertz’s seven-point jump, pushing him a mere 1.5 points behind Cockcroft and 9.5 out of first place. Does Hertz have a chance to win? Certainly, although his team just had one of its best weeks of the season, and this is more or less the level of performance Hertz will have to maintain to have a realistic shot. If Hertz maximizes his point total, he can finish with 89 points. That would put him ahead of me, but I have two points in saves that I should almost definitely pick up. So Hertz can win, but nearly every single thing would have to go Hertz’s way for this to happen.

I activated Duda (I have him in nearly every league I play in) for Kelly Johnson and put Jorge De La Rosa back into my rotation this week for Sean Gilmartin. Cockcroft activated Wil Myers for Juan Lagares and put Robbie Ray back into his lineup for Joakim Soria. With seven starting pitchers in the fold, all it will take is one big wins week for Cockcroft to jump right back to 4-5 points back. The question is whether or not he can get any closer than that. Most of the moves above belonged to Hertz (Young, Rusin, Collmenter, and Hedges) and he also activated Michael Lorenzen for Hunter Strickland. Hertz might have an uphill climb but he is Playing The Game The Right Way, as the crusty old journalists like to say.

Tout Wars AL


J.P. Arencibia $5 ($8). Other bids: $4, $3. Player reserved: Dioner Navarro.

Going to find my baby, going to hold her tight/
While I listen to an anti-sabermetric delight/
I know he’s a bad life player, it don’t make it right/
But a strong catcher in fantasy makes it feel all right.

Ooooooh, home runs from a catcher in AL-only
Oooooh, didn’t think something this good would happen to me.

Negative WAR from Arencibia might be a fright/
His low OBP makes him anti-sabermetric delight/
But the power is something that I’ll chase/
Until I fall out of my sad little AL-only race

Yeah, this song means I’m a nerd and don’t have many friends/
Yeah, I’m following an AL-only race to the end.

(drops mic, jumps into crater-sized hole, and then jumps into crater-sized hole, much to everyone’s relief).

Marcus Stroman $3 ($15). Other bid: $2. Player reserved: Scott Feldman.
Stroman is closing in on making it back to the majors, and while it isn’t 100% certain that it will be as a starting pitcher, it is well worth the risk in AL-only that he does start. Larry Schechter of Winning Fantasy Baseball made the move, and with Schechter in fourth place the gamble makes a lot of sense for him.

Nick Tropeano $2 ($6). Other bid: $1. Player reserved Nate Karns.
Tropeano slotted in for Matt Shoemaker last night and if Shoemaker isn’t ready to go later this week Tropeano will be a two-start pitcher. I have talked about Tropeano before in this space. He is a bottom end AL-only option and could provide somewhat positive value at home. Mike Podhorzer of Fangraphs entered the week eight points out of first place, but could pick up three quick points in wins with a four win jump in the last few weeks. AL Tout Wars has had far more volatility than NL Tout Wars in the overall standings, and this holds going into the last four weeks. Podhorzer and Jeff Erickson of Rotowire are close enough in enough categories that they could push Chris Liss of Rotowire down to the very end.

Mike Olt $2 ($8). Other bid $1. Player reserved: David DeJesus.
Olt was claimed on waivers by the White Sox and has already been inserted into the starting lineup for the Sox at third base over Tyler Saladino the last couple of days. Olt has always had terrific power potential, and if he does play every day could be one of the stronger additions in AL-only down the stretch. This was another Podhorzer add, and the play here is in RBI. Podhorzer can jump three points in RBI with a 10 RBI gain, and while Olt won’t do that by himself, having a starter you can add in AL-only down the stretch is significant.

Rene Rivera $1 ($2). Player reserved: Jason Castro.
Dalton Pompey $1 ($2). Player reserved: Kaleb Cowart.
James Paxton $1 ($2). Player reserved: Henry Owens.
CC Sabathia $1. Player reserved: Jesse Chavez.


Paxton is the big add on this short list, as he should get a start next Monday at home against the Angels. Quality starting pitchers on the wire are rare, and while Paxton is the embodiment of the Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, he has an opportunity to provide solid numbers down the stretch for the Mariners.

Mike Gianella is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Mike's other articles. You can contact Mike by clicking here

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